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Treatments for Hand Pain/Arthritis

Osteoarthritis in the hands is the most common form of the arthritis. Hand arthritis develops when the cartilage in the fingers and hand joints breaks down over time from use, causing pain, inflammation and stiffness in the joints, particularly in the thumb. Aching hands can be severely detrimental to quality of life, costing some people their jobs or joy of life. Your first line of defense should be a treatment with little or no side effects. Here are a couple options to help treat arthritis in your hands.

Red Light Therapy also Called Photo Biomodulation

First discovered by Nasa, this treatment causes the blood chemistry to switch into a healing mode. 660nm red light treats up to ¼ inch into the skin and 850nm lights can penetrate into finger joints. There are no know side effects to this treatment science. Learn more from NASA.

Arthritis Gloves

You will more than likely experience pain in your hands when they are cold. Frigid hands cause your joints to be stiff and painful. So, in an effort to keep the hands warm, consider using arthritis compression gloves.

Paraffin Wax Tanks/Infrared Warming

Infrared warming, also called thermotherapy, is the use of heat in therapy, such as for pain relief and health. It can be beneficial to those with arthritis and stiff muscles and injuries to the deep tissue of the skin. Heat may be an effective self-care treatment for conditions like arthritis. Using heat, can relieve the stiffness in joints in different cases. Heat works by stimulating your body's own healing force. For instance, heat dilates the blood vessels, stimulates blood circulation, relieving muscle spasms; reducing inflammation, edema, and aids in the post-acute phase of healing; and increasing blood flow. The increased blood flow to the affected area provides proteins, nutrients, and oxygen for better healing. In addition, heat alters the sensation of pain.

Anti-inflammatory Medication

Anti-inflammatory medications can come over-the-counter or in prescription form. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs include aspirin, Advil, Motrin, but be sure to fully understand the side effects and cautions that may be associated with their use.


Diet and nutrition are as important (if not more so) than medication when discussing arthritis pain. Arthritis sufferers may want to try avoiding red meat, processed foods, sugar, nightshades, gluten, flavor enhancers and lactose to see if pain levels decrease. Everyone needs to stay properly hydrated, opt for plenty of fruit and vegetables, and maximize small, cold-water fish in their diets.

Hand Creams

Some anti-inflammatory medication can be applied directly to the joint through a cream. This can serve as a first-line therapy for osteoarthritis, including the hands. When compared to oral medications and placebo tests, the topical creams may prove some short-term relief in treating joint pain and stiffness. Although arthritis creams are OTC products, you still need to use them properly. Follow these steps to help ensure safe, effective use of your arthritis cream.
  • Always follow package directions when applying an arthritis cream.
  • Wash your hands before and after you apply the cream. Never touch your eyes or mucus membranes when you have arthritis cream on your hands.
  • Limit your use to four times per day, unless the package suggests otherwise.
  • Stop using the cream if it causes any irritation or if you notice that your skin is sensitive to the product.
  • If you’re sensitive or allergic to aspirin, ask your doctor if you should avoid salicylates. You may also need to avoid them if you take prescription blood thinners.
  • To avoid side effects, use salicylate creams only occasionally, unless your doctor tells you otherwise.


In extreme cases, joint-replacement surgery may be in order. This is a major event and should be considered a last resort treatment due to the long recovery process required.

Corticosteroid Injections

Corticosteroids are used to reduce the inflammation in a joint when the patient requires more intense treatment than oral or topical medications can provide. The steroid is injected directly into the joint. However, keep in mind that receiving too many injections can begin to cause permanent damage to the joint.

Lubricating Injections

A doctor may recommend injecting medication directly into the affected joint in order to help lubricate it. As osteoarthritis is the product of wear-and-tear on the joint and breakdown of the cushioning within the joint, injecting this lubricant can help limit pain and stiffness. However, the effectiveness of this procedure has recently been called into question.